Is it time to squash the “Buffalo Bills can’t win in one-score games” narrative? After a painful Week 3 loss to the Miami Dolphins, the collective expectations of Bills Mafia were tempered entering Week 4. That’s because the Bills would need to slow down Baltimore Ravens quarterback and MVP candidate Lamar Jackson. It wasn't pretty in the first half as Buffalo couldn't get anything going on either side of the ball, but the entire team and coaching staff stepped up and made crucial halftime adjustments. After being down 20-3 at one point, the Bills rallied back to win 23-20, holding the Ravens to zero second-half points.
The injury report was much cleaner entering this matchup, with the only major losses being defensive tackles Jordan Phillips and Ed Oliver and rookie defensive back Christian Benford. The return of both center Mitch Morse and safety Jordan Poyer were the biggest impacts in this game, and man did it make a difference.
It felt really good as a fan to see the Bills overcome adversity and come away with the win. This was the first time in history that Buffalo won a game when they never once led until the final play of regulation. These aren't the “same old Bills” anymore, huh?
Offense (64 snaps)
Seeing the entire Bills starting offensive line register 100% almost brings a tear to my eye after seeing the injuries piling up in Week 3 against Miami. The health and longevity of this offensive line will be instrumental to the success of the team this season, and this week was as promising as it gets. The running game, however, still needs some serious work considering quarterback Josh Allen has now led the team in rushing three out of four games.
Entering the game, Buffalo had just five active wide receivers. Gabe Davis led the way again, registering all but one offensive snap, with Stefon Diggs not too far behind (95%). Slot wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie registered only 48% of snaps because he left the game with a concussion after taking a big hit in the middle of the field. Shortly after, Jamison Crowder exited the game with an ankle injury and didn’t return. At one point, the Bills had just three receivers to work with, but rookie Khalil Shakir (25%) made a huge catch along the sidelines on the final drive—hopefully further solidifying his role.
The run game has been underwhelming and, quite frankly, boring. It’s no surprise that Devin Singletary led the way (88%), but rookie James Cook registering just two snaps in Week 4 is concerning. Receivers and backs were dropping balls left and right due to the windy and rainy conditions, but it seems head coach Sean McDermott didn't want to put him in. If the receiving corps continues to get banged up, Cook could see more opportunities in the passing game. Whatever it takes, Cook needs more snaps. The Bills are voluntarily giving Zack Moss more snaps over their speedy second-round pick. Why?
Defense (70 snaps)
Once again, the availability and snap percentages of the defense this game could bring a tear to my eye after what happened against the Dolphins. The loss of Benford was concerning entering the game, but the return of Dane Jackson evened it out. All three starting corners (Kaiir Elam, Jackson and Taron Johnson) registered 99% of snaps, meaning the Bills walked away without a new defensive injury. Elam has been quietly dominant in his first two games as a starter, not even allowing a single catch against the Ravens and only two catches last week to wide receiver Tyreek Hill.
Both starting safeties, Poyer and Damar Hamlin, played every snap—with linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano joining them and continuing their strong start to the season. The Hamlin-Poyer duo has the potential to be very good (not Hyde-Poyer good) but it’s very possible safety Jaquan Johnson could receive opportunities still.
Both Milano and Poyer get their own paragraph simply because they were playing an ELITE level on Sunday.
Milano was all over the place, making huge tackles when it mattered. He totaled a game-high 13 tackles, which ties his career-high mark. Opposing defenses usually have a very hard time containing Jackson, but Buffalo’s linebackers essentially shut him down, especially in the second-half. Poyer didn’t let Jackson get away with anything either, picking him off twice with one coming on 4th & GOAL in the fourth quarter. He leads the league in interceptions (4) despite only playing three games.
Let’s just take a moment to appreciate the underrated and under-appreciated (by the rest of the NFL) defensive gems on this team, Bills Mafia.
The defensive line has looked the same with both Oliver and Phillips still out. Veteran defensive tackle DaQuan Jones led the way in snaps for the third straight week (70%) with defensive tackle Tim Settle and EDGE Von Miller registering six less snaps (61%). The Bills only registered two sacks, but totaled five QB hits and tackles for losses. It makes sense why the team is taking it slow with the returns of both Oliver and Phillips if the line is still able to generate pressure in their absences. It’s going to be difficult for opposing offenses to keep up with the line rotations once they return. Special shoutouts to practice squad defensive tackle Prince Emili (29%) who tipped one of Jackson’s passes at the line, which turned into a Poyer pick as well as defensive end Shaq Lawson (37%), who was right in Jackson’s face on the 4th & GOAL turnover.
Special Teams (25 snaps)
20 snaps, 80%: FB Reggie Gilliam, LBs Tyler Matakevich and Tyrel Dodson, CB Siran Neal
19 snaps, 76%: RB Taiwan Jones
17 snaps, 68%: TE Quintin Morris
16 snaps, 64%: LBs Terrell Bernard and Baylon Spector, S Ja’Quan Johnson
Notable players: WR Khalil Shakir (1 snap, 4%). WR Isaiah McKenzie (5 snaps, 20%)
There shouldn't be anything too surprising here other than wide receiver Jake Kumerow’s name missing. It’s worth mentioning that with both Crowder and safety Micah Hyde on IR, Shakir could be next man up as punt returner.
If McKenzie were to also miss time, Shakir could see himself also taking over as kick returner.
Punter Sam Martin booted kicked a whole three times this game, which is more than usual. But shoutout to his amazing hold on the game-winning field goal. It’s pretty much his only regular job nowadays.